A Warning to Be Alert

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A Warning to Be Alert

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The main purpose of our regular features "Behind the Headlines" and "World News and Trends" is to keep Good News readers informed about the way the world is going, but always from a biblical viewpoint.

The contents of these features do not always reflect front-page news in the accepted sense. Often the news behind the news proves far more important in the long run. Veteran columnist and former London Times editor William Rees-Mogg tells us that "you can depend on the fact that normal channels of information will seldom if ever give you advance warning of major political and economic events."

The main source for The Good News magazine is, of course, the Bible. Inevitably, then, almost all material appearing in "World News and Trends" and "Behind the Headlines" is written from the perspective of God's purpose and plan for humanity as revealed in the Scriptures.

Somewhere from a fourth to a third of the contents of the Bible is prophetic in nature. Much of this eschatological material is profoundly connected with developments in world affairs. In that sense the Bible is always an up-to-date, vitally relevant book.

Regarding global trends and affairs, no section of Scripture is more applicable to our world than the Olivet prophecy, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. That is where Jesus Christ Himself warns us to be vigilant about our own spiritual condition. He also describes conditions and events leading up to His second coming.

After describing the grievous state of the world to which He would return, Jesus Christ told His disciples, "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Mark 13:32, New American Standard Bible throughout, emphasis added throughout).

But does the fact that we cannot know the exact time mean we should throw up our hands and forget about the whole scenario? By no means. Notice what Jesus instructs in the next verse: "Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is" (verse 33).

He then compared Himself and His second coming to a man who traveled to a distant country, left his servants in charge of his property and asked the doorkeeper to "stay on the alert" until he returned.

Then Jesus Christ gives His warning to His disciples a second time. "Therefore, be on the alert-for you do not know when the master of the house is coming" (verse 35).

Next He warns His servants not to fall asleep on the job, followed by a third and final appeal emphasizing the importance of their task. "And what I say to you I say to all: 'Be on the alert!'" (verse 37).

Luke emphasizes our personal conduct in his Gospel's account. In it Jesus warns us to be diligent in keeping our personal spiritual house in order and shows us exactly the kind of distractions His disciples must avoid.

"Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day [of Christ's return] come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth" (Luke 21:34-35).

The vast majority of people, says Jesus Christ, will be taken by surprise. This is partly because they will have little or no idea of the need for high standards of personal conduct. Of course, Christ wants His servants to avoid falling into this trap. So He tells all of us: "But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man" (verse 36). GN